Part of the fun in visiting an MLB ballpark is experiencing the city it’s in. It’s your chance to see some sights, try the local fare, and take in the culture. An ongoing joke with my friend Liz is that our pictures should always “capture our essences.” I found many times ballparks did just this- they captured the cities they’re in’s essence. Going to the park is great (obviously, since it’s the reason you’re visiting) but don’t sell yourself short and miss out on the park’s inspiration! While I didn’t always get to fully explore the cities I visited since I was cramming in 30 parks, I did always make an effort to see what I could.
For those who are thinking, this is going to rack up my trip cost, I say “Not so fast my friend!” (yeah I just quoted Lee Corso, happens). Here are some ways to save when sightseeing in the cities of the AL West… and even some free activities!
- Escape LA for the day and enjoy some time in Anaheim- get a (free) taste of Disneyland in Downtown Disney area, visit the Fullerton Arboretum (donation requested), soar in a hot air balloon, peruse the Downtown Farmer’s Market (Thursdays), or shop at the Citadel Outlets or the Anaheim Gardenwalk.
- Huntington Beach is a popular destination for surfers, but the pier and shops along Main Street are a perfect way to enjoy the coast. If the beach isn’t for you, enjoy a hike or picnic in one of the many OC parks!
- Interested in whale watching or fishing? Visit Dana’s Wharf. During the weekend the wharf provides free children’s activities and discounts for adult activities are available on the Anaheim tourism website.
- Not the most popular tourist spot in the bay, but there are quite a few free activities for visitors to see- shop on the waterfront at Jack London Square, hike the Mazzariello Labyrinth to see the volcanic preserves, tour the Mountain View Cemetery’s gardens and scenic grounds, or visit Oakland’s Chinatown.
- Catch a show at the Woodminster Amphitheater. Ticket discounts are available by signing up through email or by liking the Facebook page. Free tickets are also available for children 16 and younger.
- Take a trip back in time and catch a classic movie at the Paramount Theater for only $5. The building is an art deco gem and tours are available for those interested in exploring it further.
- The Oakland Museum of California is well known for its ability to take visitors back in time and powerful exhibits. The first Sundays are free and active duty military families can enjoy free admission through the Blue Star Museum Program.
- Seattle is loaded with free activities and my favorites were visiting the Pike Place Market (across from the first Starbucks), exploring the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, roaming the Seattle Center (and standing below the Space Needle!), and window shopping in the retail core.
- For a complete guide to all that Seattle has to offer for free or at discounted rates, visit the National Geographic article- Free Things to do in Seattle. Fantastic information on museum free days, lunch concerts, and places to take the kids all on one page!
- Purchase a CityPASS for discounted admission (and ability to skip lines) to Seattle’s most popular attractions like the Space Needle and Aquarium.
- Visit the Center for Wooden Boats and take a free sailing class on Sundays or just admire the boats from the dock. Travel north of the city for whale watching tours and breathtaking views. Most of the tours offer discounts for advanced booking as well as seasonal specials.
- Arlington is located between Fort Worth and Dallas but is full of free attractions like the Arlington Museum of Art, Levitt Pavilion, River Legacy Living Science Center, or the Fielder House Museum.
- Six Flags and Hurricane Harbor both offer discounted tickets to the parks with purchase using a Discover card or via special offers by signing up for their emails. RetailMeNot.com also displays park discounts and recommends using AAA to purchase tickets.
- Get your nature on at the River Legacy Parks and explore the multiple terrains or wealth of free activities.
- If Arlington isn’t enough Texas for you, head over to Dallas for the day and check out some of the city’s best without spending a dime.
- Dallas’ tourism website also provides numerous free activities around the metropolis and seasonal coupons to local attractions.